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How to Start a Youth SCRABBLE Club

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It’s exciting and rewarding to start a Youth SCRABBLE Club! Sharing your knowledge of SCRABBLE with young players is very gratifying. Many of today’s top players started out playing Youth and School SCRABBLE. Here are some tips on how to start a club.

Coach

You do not need to be a SCRABBLE expert or NASPA director to start a Youth SCRABBLE Club. What you do need is a reasonable understanding of the game, some free time each week to run the club, and enthusiasm about working with young players.

Venue

The ideal venue is one where kids congregate: a library, a school, or a community center. You’ll need tables and chairs. A blackboard or whiteboard is nice, but not essential.

It’s easy to find the contact for a venue online. Send that person (or people) an email detailing your plan and follow up with a call and meeting. Here’s a sample email you can adapt to your needs: [link to sample email].

Most coaches volunteer their time; however, you may need to charge a small amount to cover your costs. If you do charge, be aware that may limit the number of students who can participate.

Publicizing Your Club

Many venues, such as libraries and schools, may publicize your club for you.

You should also register the club with the NASPA Youth Committee at the following link [insert link]. That way you will receive news updates and special offers, plus be registered for end-of-the-year awards. You can elect whether or not you wish to publish club details and/or a link to your email address.

Equipment

Depending on how many players you expect, six SCRABBLE sets should be a good start.

You can often find reasonably priced SCRABBLE equipment for sale online, too. Inexpensive turntables, available at stores such as Target, can be attached to the bottom of non-rotating boards.

You can also contact the NASPA Foundation for Youth Literacy at info@scrabbleplaers.org. This organization helps to support Youth SCRABBLE and can help provide equipment to registered NASPA Youth SCRABBLE Clubs.

You will need:

  • 6 SCRABBLE boards - Rotating preferred.
  • 12 racks
  • 6 sets of tiles - Different-colored plastic tiles preferred.
  • 6 tile bags
  • 6 timers - Optional - you can also use phone apps such as Ulu for iOS devices and Wali Timer for Android devices.
  • 1 dictionary - Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary - You can also use a computer word judge such as Zyzzyva, which includes the School SCRABBLE Word List.
  • Score sheets - You can download score sheets here.
  • "Cheat Sheets" - Optional but recommended - You can download study sheets with the 2- and 3-letter words, common bingos, and other useful words to learn here. If you print these on two sides of a brightly colored paper and then laminate them, the cheat sheets will last for several years.
  • 6 Pencils with erasers - Access to a pencil sharpener is ideal.


Handouts with suggestions and quizzes are available here.

Players

NASPA Youth SCRABBLE players range from 2nd to 12th grade. Players in the 4th to 12th grade are eligible to play in the annual North American School SCRABBLE Championship.

The ages of Youth SCRABBLE players vary from club to club; some clubs are for high school players only, and others start with 4th graders. You can elect what ages you wish to include; however, be aware that younger children may have difficulty with math calculations, writing, and focus.

SCRABBLE-related games, such as Anagrams and Bananagrams [include link] may be better options to offer younger players.

Running a Club Session

With elementary school players (2nd to 8th grade), School SCRABBLE is a great way to start. School SCRABBLE is played in teams of two, which encourages cooperation and friendship. Depending on how many players you have, you may have to have an odd team of one or three players.

With high school players (9th to 12th grade), one-on-one play is the norm, though team play is also fun. In a club with a range of ages, high school players may play solo or with a teammate.

Many clubs are limited to an hour, in which case we recommend letting the kids start playing when they arrive. You can monitor their games as instruction, offering tips when requested.

With newer players, we recommend using the clock to indicate the end of a turn but not having time penalties. If a player or team is taking too long to make a play, you can use a sand timer (or a 10-point countdown) to hurry the play along. While there is no time limit on a play in tournaments, at a club you want to be sure each player or team gets fairly even amounts of time to play.

If students are late arriving, you may want to have handouts to review with early arrivals. Students arriving later can bring these handouts home. Another option is starting a game with an early arrival and then stopping the game once the other students have arrived.

If students finish early, they may want to play a game of Speed SCRABBLE or Anagrams. These are fun ways to use any extra time you may have at the end of the session.

Prizes

You may want to offer small prizes or keep statistics. If you do offer prizes, it is good to include a prize for each player. The winners could have first pick to acknowledge them. You want to encourage all your players to keep coming.

Tournaments

Once your students are ready, you may want to run small tournaments. See How to Run a Youth SCRABBLE Tournament for details.

Assistants

Depending on the size of your club, you may need assistants. Parents of players are often happy to help out.